Can you say beginner's luck? That's what will have to come into play if the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Kings
hope to be on center stage when the last game of the Stanley Cup Final is contested in mid-June.
First of all, the Kings haven't been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2002. To say that the postseason dance is conducted to a different tune these days would be an understatement. But even more importantly, many of Los Angeles' young players have never played in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. In fact, half of the Kings' top-10 scorers have no idea what the Stanley Cup Playoffs require from both body and soul.
Top scorer Anze Kopitar
has never seen the second season. Drew Doughty
and Jack Johnson
-- two of the team's most-important defensemen -- also are novices. Heck, they can't even lean on their captain for advice. Dustin Brown
is also making his second-season debut. Plus, No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick
has not been tested in the playoff crucible.
Yet, the inexperience does not necessarily have to be a negative.
The Kings don't know what lies ahead in their postseason journey. But that means they have no idea about the good or the bad.
"It's a long time coming for me and a few other guys that have been here for awhile," Brown said. "We've grown a lot. This is the most fun I have had since I've been in the League. Just the prospect of playing in the playoffs and having these last 10 games (of the regular season) mean something is always a lot of fun."
So the Kings will be fired up to taste the Stanley Cup Playoffs and will have the fresh legs that come with youthful enthusiasm.
And, it is not all youth in Hollywood. There are some veterans in play on this Kings' roster. Defenseman Rob Scuderi
won the Cup last season with Pittsburgh and can lend a calming hand. Ryan Smyth
and Jarret Stoll
were part of the Edmonton team that pushed Carolina to a Game 7 in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. Sean O'Donnell
has also won a Cup.
Because of that veteran presence, the Kings don't believe they are a typical first-time invitee to the postseason party. As a result, they believe they can manufacture the beginner's luck necessary to survive what will be an arduous two month journey.